Nighttime noise limit considered

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2006, 12:00am

Proposal is among nine meant to stop the disturbance from traffic getting worse

The government is considering introducing a nighttime traffic noise standard and reviewing the planning guidelines for noise on housing estates in an effort to stop an already widespread problem getting worse.

The two suggestions are among nine put forward by the Environmental Protection Department for public consultation.

Others include installing more road-noise barriers and resurfacing 72 road sections with low-noise materials. A total of HK$1.1 billion has been earmarked to fit barriers at 18 points this year.

The department will also update a comprehensive noise-level study covering 100,000 buildings. The three-dimensional data may be made available on the department's website.

These measures aim to address emerging noise-pollution trends such as greater road use at night, especially by trucks, and the public's rising quality-of-life expectations.

About 1.14 million people are estimated to suffer excessive traffic noise - levels at or above the acceptable standard of not more than 70 decibels for 90 per cent of the time; 50,000 endure noise over 80 decibels. The situation is likely to deteriorate, with 10 per cent more people affected by excess noise by 2016 if nothing is done.

'The duration of noise nuisance has extended to midnight or even beyond. It is really time to consider introducing a nighttime vehicle standard,' said assistant department director Elvis Au Wai-kwong.

Mr Au said a night noise standard had been adopted in Japan, the Netherlands and America, which acted as a basis for traffic-management measures such as banning certain vehicles from using a particular section of road.

Past trials of such traffic bans in Hong Kong showed that noise could be reduced by about 5 decibels - enough for people to notice a clear difference.

Apart from reviewing noise standards, the department will consider reviewing its 1997 professional practice note on road traffic noise in residential developments.

At present, the note suggests that it is permissible for 15 per cent of flats on a 5-hectare site to be exposed to noise exceeding 70 decibels.

The Town Planning Department will take noise assessments into account when considering housing plans.

The Environmental Protection Department will consult developers about releasing noise information for each home in sales brochures, to ensure that potential buyers have a better grasp of the noise pollution they face if they buy the home.

Proposals for cutting traffic noise

Extend trial of low-noise road-surfacing materials

Explore new designs for low-noise road-surfacing materials

Explore optimum barrier design

Study feasibility of controlling vehicle noise emissions

Review the professional practice note on road traffic noise

Promote the disclosure of noise information in property sales brochures

Improve joints on flyovers

Explore nighttime traffic noise standard

Engage the public more in combating noise pollution